by Rudyard Kipling
In the Orient had rise;
Ye may find their teachers still
Under Jactala's Hill.
Seek ye Bombast Paracelsus
Read what Flood the Seeker tells us
Of the Dominant that runs
Through the Cycles of the Suns-
Read my story lastand see
Luna at her apogee. -
THERE are yearly appointmentsand two-yearly appointmentsand five-yearlyappointments at Simlaand there areor used to bepermanent appointmentswhereon you stayed up for the term of your natural life and secured red cheeksand a nice income. Of courseyou could descend in the cold weather; for Simlais rather dull then.
Tarrion came from goodness knows where- all away and away in some forsakenpart of Central Indiawhere they call Pachmari a Sanitariumand drive behindtrotting-bullocksI believe. He belonged to a regiment; but what he reallywanted to do was to escape from his regiment and live in Simla for ever and ever.He had no preference for anything in particularbeyond a good horse and a nicepartner. He thought he could do everything well; which is a beautiful beliefwhen you hold it with all your heart. He was clever in many waysand good tolook atand always made people round him comfortable- even in Central India.
So he went up to Simlaandbecause he was clever and amusinghe gravitatednaturally to Mrs. Hauksbeewho could forgive everything but stupidity. Once hedid her a great service by changing the date on an invitation-card for a bigdance which Mrs. Hauksbee wished to attendbut couldn't because she hadquarrelled with the A.-D.-C.who took carebeing a mean manto invite her toa small dance on the 6th instead of the big Ball of the 26th. It was a veryclever piece of forgery; and when Mrs. Hauksbee showed the A.-D.-C. herinvitation-cardand chaffed him mildly for not better managing his vendettashe really thought that he had made a mistake; and- which was wise- realised thatit was no use to fight with Mrs. Hauksbee. She was grateful to Tarrion and askedwhat she could do for him. He said simply'I'm a Free-lance up here on leaveon the lookout for what I can loot. I haven't a square inch of interest in allSimla. My name isn't known to any man with an appointment in his giftand Iwant an appointment- a goodsound one. I believe you can do anything you turnyourself to. Will you help me?' Mrs. Hauksbee thought for a minuteand passedthe lash of her riding-whip through her lipsas was her custom when thinking.Then her eyes sparkled and she said'I will'; and she shook hands on it.Tarrionhaving perfect confidence in this great womantook no further thoughtof the business at all. Except to wonder what sort of an appointment he wouldwin.
Mrs. Hauksbee began calculating the prices of all the Heads of Departmentsand Members of Council she knewand the more she thought the more she laughedbecause her heart was in the game and it amused her. Then she took a Civil Listand ran over a few of the appointments. There are some beautiful appointments inthe Civil List. Eventuallyshe decided thatthough Tarrion was too good forthe Political Departmentshe had better begin by trying to place him there. Herown plans to this end do not matter in the leastfor Luck or Fate played intoher handsand she had nothing to do but to watch the course of events and takethe credit of them.
All Viceroyswhen they first come outpass through the Diplomatic Secrecycraze. It wears off in time; but they all catch it in the beginningbecausethey are new to the country. The particular Viceroy who was suffering from thecomplaint just then- this was a long time agobefore Lord Dufferin ever camefrom Canadaor Lord Ripon from the bosom of the English Church- had it verybadly; and the result was that men who were new to keeping official secrets wentabout looking unhappy; and the Viceroy plumed himself on the way in which he hadinstilled notions of reticence into his Staff.
Nowthe Supreme Government have a careless custom of committing what they doto printed papers. These papers deal with all sorts of things- from the paymentof Rs. 200 to a 'secret service' nativeup to rebukes administered to Vakilsand Motamids of Native Statesand rather brusque letters to Native Princestelling them to put their houses in orderto refrain from kidnapping womenorfilling offenders with pounded red pepperand eccentricities of that kind. Ofcoursethese things could never be made publicbecause Native Princes nevererr officiallyand their States are officially as well administered as Ourterritories. Alsothe private allowances to various queer people are notexactly matters to put into newspapersthough they give quaint readingsometimes. When the Supreme Government is at Simlathese papers are preparedthereand go round to the people who ought to see them in office-boxes or bypost. The principle of secrecy was to that Viceroy quite as important as thepracticeand he held that a benevolent despotism like Ours should never alloweven little thingssuch as appointments of subordinate clerksto leak out tillthe proper time. He was always remarkable for his principles.
There was a very important batch of papers in preparation at that time. Ithad to travel from one end of Simla to the other by hand. It was not put into anofficial envelopebut a largesquarepale pink one; the matter being in MS.on soft crinkly paper. It was addressed to 'The Head Clerketc. etc.' Nowbetween 'The Head Clerketc. etc.' and 'Mrs. Hauksbee' and a flourishis novery great differenceif the address be written in a very bad handas this was.The orderly who took the envelope was not more of an idiot than most orderlies.He merely forgot where this most unofficial cover was to be deliveredand soasked the first Englishman he metwho happened to be a man riding down toAnnandale in a great hurry. The Englishman hardly looked at itsaid'Mrs.Hauksbee' and went on. So did theorderlybecause that letter was the last in stock and he wanted to gethis work over. There was no book to sign; he thrust the letter into Mrs.Hauksbee's bearer's hands and went off to smoke with a friend. Mrs. Hauksbee wasexpecting some cut-out pattern things in flimsy paper from a friend. As soon asshe got the big square packetthereforeshe said'Ohthe dear creature!' andtore it open with a paper-knifeand all the MS. enclosures tumbled out on thefloor.
Mrs. Hauksbee began reading. I have said the batch was rather important. Thatis quite enough for you to know. It referred to some correspondencetwomeasuresa peremptory order to a native chiefand two dozen other things. Mrs.Hauksbee gasped as she readfor the first glimpse of the naked machinery of theGreat Indian Governmentstripped of its casingsand lacquerand paintandguard-railsimpresses even the most stupid man. And Mrs. Hauksbee was a cleverwoman. She was a little afraid at firstand felt as if she had taken hold of alightning-flash by the tailand did not quite know what to do with it. Therewere remarks and initials at the side of the papers; and some of the remarkswere rather more severe than the papers. The initials belonged to men who areall dead or gone now; but they were great in their day. Mrs. Hauksbee read onand thought calmly as she read. Then the value of her trove struck herand shecast about for the best method of using it. Then Tarrion dropped inand theyread through all the papers togetherand Tarrionnot knowing how she had comeby themvowed that Mrs. Hauksbee was the greatest woman on earth. Which Ibelieve was trueor nearly so.
'The honest course is always the best' said Tarrionafter an hour and ahalf of study and conversation. 'All things consideredthe Intelligence Branchis about my form. Either that or the Foreign Office. I go to lay siege to theHigh Gods in their Temples.'
He did not seek a little manor a little big manor a weak Head of a strongDepartmentbut he called on the biggest and strongest man that the Governmentownedand explained that he wanted an appointment at Simla on a good salary.The compound insolence of this amused the Strong Manandas he had nothing todo for the momenthe listened to the proposals of the audacious Tarrion. 'YouhaveI presumesome special qualificationsbesides the gift of self-assertionfor the claims you put forward?' said the Strong Man. 'ThatSir' said Tarrion'is for you to judge.' Then he beganfor he had a good memoryquoting a few ofthe more important notes in the papers- slowly and one by one as a man dropschlorodyne into a glass. When he had reached the peremptory order- and it was avery peremptory order- the Strong Man was troubled. Tarrion wound up- 'And Ifancy that special knowledge of this kind is at least as valuable forlet ussaya berth in the Foreign Officeas the fact of being the nephew of adistinguished officer's wife.' That hit the Strong Man hardfor the lastappointment to the Foreign Office had been by black favourand he knew it.
'I'll see what I can do for you' said the Strong Man.
'Many thanks' said Tarrion. Then he leftand the Strong Man departed to seehow the appointment was to be blocked. -
* * * * * * * -
Followed a pause of eleven days; with thunders and lightnings and muchtelegraphing. The appointment was not a very important onecarrying onlybetween Rs. 500 and Rs. 700 a month; butas the Viceroy saidit was theprinciple of diplomatic secrecy that had to be maintainedand it was more thanlikely that a boy so well supplied with special information would be worthtranslating. So they translated Tarrion. They must have suspected himthough heprotested that his information was due to singular talents of his own. Nowmuchof this storyincluding the after-history of the missing envelopeyou mustfill in for yourselfbecause there are reasons why it cannot be written. If youdo not know about things Up Aboveyou won't understand how to fill inand youwill say it is impossible.
What the Viceroy said when Tarrion was introduced to him was- 'This is theboy who "rushed" the Government of Indiais it? RecollectSirthatis not done twice.' So he must have known something.
What Tarrion said when he saw his appointment gazetted was- 'If Mrs. Hauksbeewere twenty years youngerand I her husbandI should be Viceroy of India infifteen years.'
What Mrs. Hauksbee saidwhen Tarrion thanked heralmost with tears in hiseyeswas first- 'I told you so!' and nextto herself- 'What fools men are!' --